E-40 is a hero in the Bay Area and is so for several reasons. As one of the first rappers from Oakland, E-40 (real name Earl Tywone Stevens Sr) began his rap career with his crew, The Click. Members included B-Legit, D-Shot and Suga-T.
As a member of The Click, Stevens encouraged them to record, resulting in the crew releasing their 1990 EP Let’s Side. Picking up a fair amount of traction in East Oakland and Vallejo, in 1992, the group signed with Sick Wid It Records to release their second album, Down And Dirty.
E-40 recorded some solo material along the way. However, in 1993 The Click had a commercial breakthrough with their comical song ‘Captain Save a Hoe’. With his unique style and humour, E-40 developed a heavy regional following in the Bay Area, eventually spreading nationwide.
Alongside figures such as Too $hort, E-40, with his unique style and flow, put a spotlight on MCs from Northern California. However, he was an admirer of artists from regions of the US as well. In an interview with the renowned publication Pitchfork about his favourite rappers, Stevens revealed his favourite rap song of all time.
Unveiling that he had a great love for the conscious rap of the East Coast, E-40 disclosed that his favourite hip-hop track ever was ‘Love’s Gonna Get’cha (Material Love)’ by Boogie Down Productions. Explaining why it was his favourite, Stevens elaborated, “On the West Coast, they didn’t teach us about Malcolm X and all of that in school. I learned that from X Clan, Public Enemy, and KRS-One. KRS was a teacher and philosopher to me.”
He continued, “I had a ’67 Cougar back in the day, and we used to bump the hell out of BDP. We had all the slap in our trunk, so the boom-boom-boom of the beat went hard. My favourite part of this song is when he’s talking about flipping dope and profit and says, ‘I do it once, I do it twice / Now there’s steak with the beans and rice.’ This was when crack cocaine hit the streets, and we did what we had to do as a means for survival.”
Singing KRS-One’s praises the Oakland artist continued, “He was also talking about how easy it is to get caught up in the materialistic shit. I was from the hood, so I knew all about it. It was such real storytelling. KRS is one of the greatest at that, and I put myself in that category, too. We paint stories with a verbal brush.”